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Introducing the research proposal

First step
As indicated earlier, you must contact your Supervisor within one month of registering on the module and suggest some dates and times for a telephone, Skype or face-to-face discussion. This will then lead to the agreement of a research proposal.

Choosing a topic
You may wish to select two or three topics and discuss these. It is also fine to have no ideas or many!

Moving on
Over time, your supervisor will discuss and agree the research proposal with you in some detail. It is often necessary to send the proposal back and forth in order to accomplish this. Please do not worry about this as this is a normal part of the negotiation process. The supervisor gives the proposal close reading and often encourages students to narrow down topics into manageable areas and focus on particular research questions. As indicated earlier, research can take a variety of forms from desk-based work to participant observation and it is up to you to develop and justify your own approach. It is worth considering at a relatively early stage whether or not your project will involve direct contact with people as this can affect time scales, planning and ethics.

The research proposal itself
You are advised to include the following headings in the final research proposal.

Introduction and initial literature review
Provide a rationale for your research questions based on your initial review of the literature (in the widest sense). State clearly your epistemological position and theoretical perspective.

Research questions (RQs)
State clearly your research questions (usually around 1 to 3 questions).

Research methods
Describe the research methods you intend to use. Specify your research strategy, data collection methods and framework for data analyis/interpretation. Justify your approach to each by referring back to the initial literature review and research questions. Taking each RQ in turn, show clearly how you intend to answer it, paying particular attention to the process of data analysis/interpretation.

Reflexivity and ethics
In all cases, show consideration of ethical matters (such as harm and confidentiality) and reflexivity. If the project involves direct engagement with people, also state how consent will be agreed and recorded, and protection from harm ensured for all parties. Show consideration of your situation and context in relation to the research.

Briefly outline the main steps towards completion of the project for the allocated hand-in date including timescales for formative feedback prior to final submission.

List of references
Fully reference the proposal in the course Harvard style.

CLL Research Ethics Approval Form (in all cases)
Information and Consent Form (if research involves direct contact with participants)
See Reflexivity and Ethics section for more detail and links to forms.


Next steps

  • The subheadings above are intended as a helpful guide only and can be altered by negotiation with your superviser.
  • Once the final research proposal has been agreed, you will then usually proceed to the 'active' research stage.
  • Share a brief description of your project using the forum.
  • If you wish to propose any changes to the research proposal following approval, then you will need to agree these with your supervisor prior to final submission.
  • Once you have developed a draft project (research project) or response to your first research question (dissertation) email this to your supervisor suggesting some dates and times for a discussion.